Building Power for Community-Led Solutions: GREEN And Urban Water Funders Learning Together

BY Kerry Hastings and Ann Fowler Wallace, TFN Urban Water Funders and GREEN working groups

On February 16 and 17, funders from TFN’s GREEN and Urban Water Funders working groups came together to deepen learning and connections. This virtual gathering was the second annual convening where these two working groups met together, recognizing how interconnected their interests are. Both groups focus on disparate climate impacts on low-income communities and communities of color, the importance of community-led solutions, and the need for increased and targeted investments into those same communities to transform them into hubs of sustainability, health, equity and innovation.   

Nearly every funder arrived with a hunger to root ourselves in this moment of extreme disparity and growing climate-fueled disasters, as well as one of unprecedented investment coming down from the federal government into states and communities. We used our two days to learn from frontline community leaders, government officials, and one another. Our sessions provided opportunities to hear from members of the White House’s Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC), Hawaiians leading climate resilience and OneWater work in Honolulu, and funders growing their racial equity muscles as they center equity in their institutions and implement equitable grantmaking practices. We also held several opportunities for breakouts for deeper funder connection and learning.   

Our two days together left funders feeling inspired and motivated both by the ideas and solutions proposed, as well as the work ahead to implement those solutions. Below are a few of the themes on how philanthropy can step into its role with the greatest impact, and ways that funders want to dive deeper in learning and implementation of these solutions.   

  • Supporting workforce development and inclusive leadership pathways. Philanthropy can support the next generation of water leaders by investing in leadership development and workforce pathways. There was particular interest in learning beyond the water and climate sectors and tapping into expertise of jobs programs such as Americorps or Public Allies to support a more diverse workforce.  


  • Get frontline organizations what they need most. The verdict is clear: nonprofit organizations (NGOs), especially those on the front lines, need unrestricted, multi-year grants to do their most impactful work. In addition, frontline leaders called on philanthropy to support endowments for environmental justice groups to lessen the ever-present burden of fundraising, as well as support self-care, career pathways and wage growth within NGOs so that great staff don’t have to leave movement work to advance in their careers.  


  • Utilize intermediaries as a tool for targeted investments. For those funders who cannot build direct relationships with every community where they would like to move funds, intermediaries – when used thoughtfully – can be a way to drive investment to and build capacity of smaller organizations and ecosystems of organizations that serve places or specific communities, such as Native American intermediaries. Intermediaries can also serve as a path to get federal and state resources directed towards community-led solutions. 


  • Support government agencies directly. A powerful image of an hourglass was shared by a WHEJAC member during our opening session; at the top of the hourglass is the pledge and commitment of the federal government to do something big on equity, and at the bottom are the billions of dollars ready to go out the door. In the middle, however, is the bottleneck of limited staff capacity to make the commitment a reality. How can philanthropy help expand this pinch point? Foundations can loan executives or support additional staff from talented NGOs, and through advocacy and funding of community groups, support de-siloing of government agencies to encourage collaboration at the local, state and national level.  


  • Commit to and invest in racial and economic equity. Funders continue to hunger for more peer learning on how to deepen their equitable grantmaking practices and internal operations. Funders discussed how to make the case to trustees, how to support ongoing evaluation to ensure new practices are meeting their intended goals, and ways to use various tools to identify spots for improvement, such as the Meyer Memorial Trust’s DEI Spectrum Tool 


  • Protect democracy. It is not an exaggeration to say that this moment is different than any other in our lifetimes, as we watch a renewed attack on democracy in our nation and around the globe. While funders each have their specific program and issue areas, the larger context of protecting our democracy must be considered and invested in, including a focus on the judiciary and the dangers that lie ahead for progressive causes and Black, Indigenous and other People of Color communities.  


GREEN and Urban Water Funders working groups convened virtually in February. Photo credit: Ron Milam


We can’t wait to continue these discussions and others. Many thanks to our planning committee: Alejandra Hernandez, Kresge Foundation; Naeema Campbell, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; Nate Boon, William Penn Foundation; Dana Okano, Hawaii Community Foundation; and John Mitterholzer, George Gund Foundation. 

Learn more

To learn more about our two working groups and sign up for our newsletters, visit the Urban Water Funders and GREEN working groups pages. 

About the Authors 

 Ann Fowler Wallace is TFN’s director of programs. Ann manages TFN’s working groups and regional networks, is part of the GREEN working group team, and serves on the Governance Committee and Grant Selection Committee for the Partners for Places grant program. 







Kerry Hastings is the program lead for TFN’s Urban Water Funders working group, as well as the program manager for Smart Growth California, a TFN initiative.







Hawaii Big Island” by szeke is licensed under CC BY-SA

Meet the 2022 PLACES Fellows!

BY Dion Cartwright, TFN Director of Equitable Initiatives and
Leadership Development

TFN’s vision is to create generations of courageous philanthropic leaders who are engaged, emboldened and equipped to bring about a just society.

That’s why we are so proud to announce the 2022 PLACES Fellows — 16 exemplary grantmakers who will embark on a year-long curriculum focusing on racial equity and justice.

They will work together to not only deepen their understanding of structural racism and its malign impacts, but to acquire the tools and resources needed to challenge and change systemic inequities through their grantmaking.

Because of the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, we had to hit pause on our PLACES Fellowship program last year.

Before we celebrate the 2022 PLACES Cohort, I want to acknowledge our 2020 PLACES Fellows, who accepted their fellowships just a few weeks before COVID hit the headlines, causing us to quickly pivot our learning agenda into an all-virtual format. These 2020 PLACES Fellows adapted with grace and goodwill – and bore witness in real-time to the disproportionate health, economic and social impacts this pandemic wrought on Black, Indigenous and other communities of color.

In fact, throughout this ongoing pandemic, I’ve drawn tremendous inspiration and motivation from our PLACES Alumni Network, who have stepped up to offer each other support, resources and compassion over these past two years.

Over the years, PLACES cohorts have addressed issues impacting disenfranchised communities, including structural racism, gender justice, health equity, environmental sustainability, economic development and community engagement — asking difficult questions, exploring uncomfortable truths and confronting their own biases along the way.

As our society continues to wrestle with a long-overdue reckoning on racial justice, it’s essential that our philanthropic institutions work to remedy systemic inequities, including those within their organizational cultures.

I look forward to learning and sharing alongside these 16 new PLACES Fellows as we embark on this year-long journey. They represent a wealth of expertise and lived experiences, and hail from diverse geographies and backgrounds.

On behalf of the selection committee (comprised entirely of PLACES alums) and TFN’s PLACES team, including Equity Programs Manager Talissa Lahaliyed and the PLACES Advisory Board, join me in congratulating these outstanding 2022 PLACES Fellows!


Meet the 2022 PLACES Fellows!





California Community Foundation




Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta


The Kresge Foundation


The Colorado Trust


New Growth Innovation Network


Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Bay Area


Charles Stewart Mott Foundation


Rhode Island Foundation


CSD Unites Community Foundation  


Center for Disaster Philanthropy


Gray Family Foundation


The California Endowment


St. Luke’s Foundation


Learn more about PLACES

PLACES X: Stories of Impact
For the 10th anniversary of TFN’s PLACES Fellowship, we worked with two award-winning journalists to help capture the stories shared and the lessons learned through the PLACES Fellowship. The result is our PLACES Impact Stories project, which includes profiles written by WLRN social justice reporter Nadege Green and videos created by documentary filmmaker Oscar Corral.

Going PLACES Blog Series
After each PLACES site visit, we ask the fellows to reflect on their experiences in our blog series Going PLACESCheck out some recent highlights from our PLACES alumni.

If you would like to know more about PLACES, including ways your organization can invest in our equit-focused PLACES Fellowship and Alumni Network, email Dion Cartwright at

Safety First: Learn about our COVID measures at #TFN2022 — and our commitment to gathering (safely) in San Diego


For nearly two years, we’ve had to navigate the impacts of the pandemic on our personal and professional lives, including figuring out how best to serve the people and communities we care about. That’s why I believe it is essential that we gather to share our experiences and insights if we are to seize this moment — as funders and as individuals — to bring about transformative change.

It’s why TFN is committed to coming together in San Diego for our 2022 Annual Conference: Seize the Moment March 14-16.  We pride ourselves in putting the wellbeing of people first: our members, our team, and our partners and allies. We (and our organizations) all have varying degrees of comfort when it comes to events and travelling these days, so I wanted to share the updated Health & Safety protocols in place for our annual conference.  I hope sharing these measures helps you make an informed decision about whether to join us in San Diego.  Here are the measures we have in place for TFN2022: 

  • Wearing N95, KN95 or KF94 masks/face coverings while indoors, which TFN will provide attendees.
  • Proof of vaccination with exemptions for medical or religious reasons.
  • Proof of negative antigen COVID-19 test results taken within 24 hours of check-in at the event registration desk.
  • Daily, self-administered rapid antigen testing. (TFN will have self-testing kits available for purchase at cost.)

Additionally, the TFN team is working diligently to plan for reasonable social distancing for concurrent sessions and other events at our conference venue, the US Grant Hotel.   While I truly look forward to seeing you at the conference, I also recognize and understand that the challenges presented by this pandemic haven’t hit us all evenly — especially if you or someone you care for is medically vulnerable or you have children in your household who are too young to be vaccinated. To those of you who can’t make it to San Diego, please know that we understand and are thinking of you. (And we’ll continue to offer virtual events throughout the year as part of our TFN learning agenda.)   Please take a moment to read the full Health & Safety section on our TFN2022 website.  While you’re there, be sure to check out our amazing conference agenda and other highlights!

Some of the topics we’ll explore in San Diego: 

  • How can philanthropy best support community-powered efforts to combat the climate crisis, address racial injustice and build economic opportunities?
  • As communities continue to grapple with the disastrous health, social and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, how do we ensure a truly equitable recovery?
  • How can the sector effectively advocate for equitable policies at the local, state and regional level — and leverage its reputational capital to combat disinformation and defend against the erosion of civil liberties?
  • What are the tools and strategies that can improve the outcomes and impact of grantmaking, especially for marginalized and underrepresented communities?

We recognize that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, coupled with a long-overdue national reckoning on racial justice and the ever-increasing impacts of climate crises and extreme weather, has presented us with a singular moment in history. I look forward to joining you in San Diego to expand our learning, foster collaboration and catalyze action.








About the Author

Patricial L. Smith is the president and CEO of The Funders Network. Pat joined The Funders Network in 2018, bringing with her a wealth of expertise in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Pat took the helm on the cusp of the network’s 20th anniversary, guiding TFN through key milestones during a pivotal moment in our history, including the launch of internal equity training for TFN’s team, an affirmation of our organizational commitment to racial equity and a new strategic framework that will govern TFN’s future direction through 2025.  Pat’s vision is to help create a generation of philanthropic leadership that is engaged and emboldened to tackle the defining issues of our era — namely pervasive racial, economic and environmental injustices — and committed to bringing about a just society. Read more about Pat and the rest of the TFN staff on our Team page. 

Photo by KlausHausmann is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

New Grant Opportunities! Partners for Places matching grants support sustainability projects & foster local partnerships


The Funders Network (TFN), in partnership with the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN), is pleased to announce the opening of the latest round of the Partners for Places grant program.

The deadline to submit proposals is April 13.

Partners for Places is a successful matching grant program that improves communities by supporting equitable sustainability projects that build partnerships between local government leaders, frontline community groups and place-based funders in the U.S. and Canada.

National funders invest in local projects developed through these partnerships to promote a healthy environment, a strong economy and well-being for all residents.

Through these investments, Partners for Places fosters long-term relationships that make our communities more resilient, prosperous and equitable.

These one-to-one matching awards provide partnership investments between $25,000 and $75,000 for one-year projects, or between $75,000 and $150,000 for two-year projects, with a 1:1 match required by one or more local foundations.

Interested in applying? Access the application and resource documents below. (These resources are also available on our Partners for Places home page.)


Round 19 Application and Resources

About Partners for Places

Partners for Places is led by TFN in partnership with the USDN. As in previous grant cycles, we are excited to partner with Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange, a practitioner network that supports communities seeking to grow green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) programs, to support outreach efforts.

To date, Partners for Places has awarded nearly $8.5 million across North America in this successful matching grant program, leading to more than $18 million in investments.

The program is currently supported by six investor foundations: The JPB FoundationThe Kendeda FundThe Kresge FoundationNew York Community TrustThe Allen H. and Selma W. Berkman Charitable Trust, and the Pisces Foundation.

Read about previous rounds of grants under the “Meet the Grantees” section of the Partners for Places page.

Submitting a Successful Proposal

Partners for Places will help fund a new park for community gatherings in Cleveland. Photo credit: Western Reserve Land Conservancy

Partners for Places currently administers two grant programs: General Grants, and a Mini Grants program.

General Grants in Round 19 will:
1. Create or improve collaborative partnerships between a local government sustainability and/or water department(s), frontline community group(s), and place-based funder(s).
2. Advance equitable climate action (ECA) and green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) projects that address frontline community priorities.
3. Apply a racial equity approach to both the collaboration and the project planning/implementation.

The application deadline for Round 19 is April 13 (by 11:59 p.m., any time zone).

Please visit the Partners for Places webpage for more information.

Collaboration and partnership are at the heart of the Partners for Places program.

Since 2012, the matching grant program has helped foster dozens of new partnerships between local government sustainability leaders and place-based funders across the U.S. and Canada — relationships that often continue long after the original Partners for Places project has been completed.

In recent years, the grant program has adopted a strategy that leads with racial equity and a sharper focus on how best to advance equitable and sustainable communities.

Starting with the Round 17 Invitation to Apply released in July of 2020, the primary partners have been expanded to include local frontline community groups.

This collaborative partnership model is intended to more deeply embed the values and practice of racial equity into local community decision-making processes.

Partners for Places will help Chicago schoolyards into vibrant green spaces for play and learning. Credit: Space to Grow.

Additional Resources and FAQ’s

 Register for our Round 19 Informational Webinar designed to help potential applicants prepare proposals, March 10 at 3 p.m.ET. Register here.

→ Read this feature story about Partners for Places in Inside Philanthropy here.

→  If you have questions about the Partners for Places program, please feel free to reach out to Ashley Quintana at

→ Where is Partners for Places making an impact? Read previous grant announcements and explore the Partners for Places Grantee Map here.

→ Where can I learn about completed Partners for Places projects?
Visit the Partners for Places Idea Bank to explore what grantees are doing, learning and sharing.


Featured image at top: The City of Bridgeport, Conn., received a Partners for Places grant to help revitalize the city’s coastline. Photo Credit: The Trust for Public Land

Mobility Fund Grants: Transit, walking & biking advocates receive more than $1 million in new funding

TFN’s Mobility and Access Collaborative is an action-oriented effort that recognizes the urgent need to limit transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions in our escalating climate crisis, while eliminating underlying inequities in the mobility system. The collaborative brings together place-based, regional and national funders to share stories, examine best practices and explore critical issues. Funders engaged in the Mobility and Access Collaborative were instrumental in the launch of the Mobility Fund, which supports local advocacy efforts. Read on for more information about the Mobility Fund's second round of grants. (You can learn more about the Mobility Fund’s first round of grants here.)

By The Mobility Fund

Eight mobility advocacy groups received a total of $391,500 in grants to support their work to advance equitable and sustainable transportation from the second round of the Mobility Fund.

The fund leveraged contributions from national funders with matches from local funders of nearly $761,000 to benefit local and regional non-profits working to make transit, biking and walking convenient, safe and accessible for more people.

“Transit is an essential service for getting people to work, school, medical appointments, and other important destinations in their lives,” said Tenzin Dolkar, Midwest Climate and Energy program officer for the McKnight Foundation.

“There has never been a more important time to invest in transit, biking, and walking—for people and for our planet. That is why the McKnight Foundation supports the Mobility Fund and the advocates working every day to protect and expand sustainable and equitable mobility options,” said Dolkar.

Transit service continues to be impacted by COVID-19 and those impacts fall disproportionately on underserved, underrepresented, and historically marginalized communities. Advocates working to protect, preserve and enhance mobility at the local level are chronically underfunded and the need for support is great. In Round 2, the Mobility Fund received 45 letters of interest, from which the Fund invited 17 proposals with a total request of $891,500.

“The Mobility Fund is a key philanthropic investment opportunity at the intersection of transportation, equity and climate,” said Lina Fedirko, program manager on the Transportation Team at the ClimateWorks Foundation, another investor in the fund. “ClimateWorks is excited to join partners for the second year, in supporting the local advocacy necessary to push for emissions free transportation that centers and serves people."

“These grants are about supporting advocates fighting for a just, clean and healthy transportation future. It starts with these people and hundreds of others that deserve more support,” said Darryl Young, director of the Sustainable Cities Program at The Summit Foundation, which also supported the fund.

Grants provide general operations support and support for collaboration between community groups that advocate for mobility.

Photo Credit (above and featured image): Bike East Bay, one of several organizations receiving grants through the latest round of the Mobility Fund.

Grantees from the second round of the Mobility Fund are:

Active Transportation Alliance, Chicago ($50,000) Building Power for Equitable Transportation Investment: A project to support the Transportation Equity Network Advocacy Committee efforts to mobilize its membership around an advocacy strategy, to ensure a transparent and accountable decision-making process that prioritizes racial equity for Chicago’s 2022 capital spending and beyond.

Atlanta Bicycle Coalition ($72,500) Expanding More Equitable Transit in Atlanta: A project to create deeper collaboration between the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, MARTA Army, and the Partnership for Southern Equity to inform, educate, and empower community residents to advocate for more equitable, accessible transit in Atlanta.

Bike East Bay ($50,000) Community Organizing for Equitable Slow Streets in Oakland: A project to partner with the City of Oakland and local community groups to expand and permanently adopt Oakland’s post-pandemic Slow Street network.

Coalition for Smarter Growth, Fairfax County, Va. ($50,000) Safer Streets for Bailey’s Crossroads: A project to involve community members in advocating and winning design solutions to make their streets safer, and improve access to transit and services ⁠—i creating a model for local engagement and successful advocacy that can be applied in other priority communities.

Futurewise ($45,000) Advancing Equitable Transit-Oriented Communities on Seattle’s Eastside: A project to advocate in partnership with local BIPOC communities for updates to local neighborhood plans, accessible housing, and transportation policies that will create equitable, transit-oriented communities in the areas served by the upcoming Sound Transit East Link light rail expansion.

Health by Design ($24,000) Building the Indiana Mobility Management Network: A project to advance and accelerate efforts underway to establish a Mobility Management Network (MMN) for the state of Indiana in 2022.

Move LA ($50,000) Centering Equity for LA Transit Riders: A project to prioritize the restoration and expansion of LA Metro bus service, support funding for a fareless transit system pilot, and advocate for capital projects that prioritize bus speed and active transit that benefit low-income and communities of color.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways ($50,000) BIPOC-Led Solutions for Community Safety: A project to support a workgroup is dedicated to reviewing and revising laws governing the use of our public streets to better meet the needs of the BIPOC community who have historically been excluded from the full and free use of this shared public space.

Photo credit: Coalition for Smart Growth, one of several grantees receiving funding through the second round of the Mobility Fund.

About the Mobility Fund

The Mobility Fund supports community-based advocacy around sustainable and equitable mobility through competitive grantmaking. To date, the fund has granted $778,000 to 17 mobility advocate groups working to advance equitable mobility access and use in communities since its launch in 2020. Thus far, grant recipients have reported $1,807,943 in additional funds leveraged, including local matching funds, producing a 232.4% return on the Mobility Fund’s investment. This fund is housed at Global Philanthropy Partnership. It is supported by the pooled funds of trailblazing regional and national philanthropic foundations who are comfortable working at the
nexus of equity and climate to transform broken systems. Fund processes are guided by an Advisory Team made up of local mobility advocates and national funders. For more information about the Mobility Fund, contact Martha Roskowski at



Our New Mailing Address & All-remote Workplace


Like most of you, our team has had to adjust the ways in which we connect as colleagues over the past two years. We've had a few epiphanies along the way — most notably that our team and our work are best served by going fully remote as an organization.

While many of our staff and program consultants were working remotely across the U.S. even before the pandemic, this means we will no longer have a brick-and-mortar Miami hub office.

Effective Feb. 1, we'll have a new mailing address for business purposes. Please update your records with this new address:

2000 Ponce de Leon Blvd, Suite 600, Coral Gables, FL 33134

Our all-remote set-up allows for operational savings, while also affording our team the added flexibility to better balance our professional and personal lives.

This change will not impact our member services or programming, and all of our phone extensions will remain the same. If you have any questions about TFN's all-remote workplace set-up, please feel free to TFN's Vice President and Director, Member Services Maureen Lawless or Director of Finance and Operations Jennifer Cummings.

On behalf of the entire TFN team, we're grateful for our membership's continued support and shared commitment to helping communities move toward racial, economic and environmental justice.

"woman working with a laptop at home." by shixart1985 is licensed under CC BY

United Philanthropy Forum: Urge the Senate to Pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act


President Joe Biden this week addressed the nation from Atlanta, a city at the heart of the civil rights movement, painting a dire picture for future elections and American democracy without the passage of key legislation to protect voting rights. That includes the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore anti-discrimination components of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that were stripped away by the Supreme Court in 2013.

The United Philanthropy Forum (UPF) has released a letter of support for the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and urges the United States Senate to prioritize passing this act before the end of the 117th Congress.

The Funders Network's President & CEO Pat Smith, a UPF board member, has signed on to this letter on behalf of the TFN team. We encourage others in the charitable sector to sign on as well. The letter sign-on is open to foundations, nonprofits and national and state infrastructure organizations.

Below is UPF's summary of the letter in support of the voting rights act. To read the full text and signatories, and to submit your name to the list of supporters, click here. 

(The deadline to add your name to this letter is Jan. 21, 2022.)

Charitable Sector Letter to Congress in Support of Voting Rights: Summary

Last year, the United States House of Representatives passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The bill, which United Philanthropy Forum has endorsed, now awaits action in the Senate.

Our Public Policy Principles outline a commitment to championing racial equity and strengthening democracy.  Via this commitment, the Forum looks to endorse positive, practical solutions that seek to eliminate economic, social, health, and educational barriers, and replaces them with policies that are fair, just, create equitable opportunities and outcomes, and diminish racial and ethnic disparities. By restoring the protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is a common-sense public policy proposal that will accomplish these goals, and aligns with this commitment by eliminating racial discrimination in the voting process.

As the letter to the Senate states, Congressman Lewis dedicated his life to advancing civil and human rights for all Americans, recognizing injustices when he saw them and calling them out.  So, while this issue may not be front and center in your individual policy agendas, if we are truly committed to racial equity and racial justice, we cannot afford to be silent on this issue. We must call out injustices when we see them, and use our platform to bring positive change.

This should not be a partisan issue, Philanthropy has a long and distinguished record of standing up for voting rights. No matter the issues that funders support, or the regions where they focus their funding, philanthropy cannot do its work successfully without a strong and healthy democracy where everyone has the ability to vote freely and fairly.



"The late Rep. John Lewis, civil rights icon." Photo credit: Mobilus In Mobili is licensed under CC BY-SA


Seize the Moment: A message from TFN's 2022 Annual Conference Co-chairs

BY Christiana DeBenedict, Craig Martinez and Marisa Aurora Quiroz, TFN2022 Co-Chairs

We are thrilled that TFN’s 2022 Annual Conference: Seize the Moment, takes place March 14-16 in San Diego, California.

TFN’s signature annual event is especially meaningful this time around: The 2022 Annual Conference will mark the first time in two years our community of funders, partners and practitioners will be able to come together in person.

We’ve all had to navigate the impacts of the pandemic on our personal and professional lives, including how best to serve the people and communities we care for.

TFN’s Annual Conference is a chance to reconnect with friends and colleagues in the sector — and to identify opportunities for collaboration and action that address the multiple and intersecting challenges we face: an escalating climate crisis, an ongoing pandemic, persistent racial injustice and a widening wealth gap, all of which are causing disproportionate harm to communities of color.

We invite you to join us to learn and share powerful and creative strategies that can address systemic inequities and move us toward racial, economic and environmental justice. 

This year’s conference theme, Seize the Moment, is a call to action to our sector to lean into this unprecedented moment with urgency and purpose.

The 2022 Annual Conference will offer a wealth of sessions, speakers and mobile workshops that will challenge and inspire us to discover new ways to overcome obstacles to opportunity, empowerment and justice for all. (You can take a look at our agenda here.)

We’re excited that TFN’s 2022 Annual Conference will take place in our home state of California.

With a diverse population, rich cultural heritage and geographic location as a border community, San Diego provides critical context and opportunities to learn as we address pressing issues such as immigration, climate change, affordable housing and more. We’ll hear from thought-provoking voices as we explore innovative, interdisciplinary work that is making an impact in San Diego and beyond.

This conference is also a chance to connect with your peers across the sector. Over these three days, we’ll have plenty of opportunities to socialize — most notably at our Eat Here! local food reception, which will highlight the multicultural culinary heritage and food systems of the San Diego community.

The safety and well-being of our attendees, vendors and TFN team members is a top priority. Please read the Health & Safety section of the conference website to learn more about the COVID-19 protocols in place for this conference, including vaccination and testing requirements for all attendees. We’re also asking attendees to indicate their preferred sessions in advance to help us plan for appropriate social distancing during breakouts and other conference activities.

We look forward to seeing you in San Diego!

About our TFN2022 Co-Chairs

Christiana DeBenedict serves as Director of Environmental Initiatives at The San Diego Foundation, leading programs and directing resources to build a more equitable and resilient San Diego. She is a member of the statewide steering committee for Smart Growth California, a TFN initiative that brings funders together to build healthy, equitable, and sustainable communities throughout California.




Craig Martinez is a Senior Program Manager at The California Endowment, which is committed to social justice and health equity for all Californians, and is based in Los Angeles. He is the chair of The Funder Network’s Board of Directors and an alum of TFN’s PLACES Fellowship 2013 Cohort. He also co-chairs Smart Growth California’s statewide steering committee.



Marisa Aurora Quiroz is President & CEO of the International Community Foundation, which is committed to protecting the environment and improving the quality of life in Baja California and Latin America. An alum of TFN’s PLACES Fellowship 2017 Cohort, she is based in San Diego County’s National City.




2022 PLACES Fellowship Now Open!

Apply Now

UPDATE: We've extended the deadline to apply for the 2022 PLACES cohort to Feb. 1.  View and complete the application.

PLACES — which stands for Professionals Learning About Community, Equity and Sustainability — is a year-long learning opportunity designed to help grantmakers embed the values of racial, social and economic equity into their work.

By the end of their fellowship, participants are equipped with the tools and resources to understand, challenge and change systemic inequities.

Over the past decade, PLACES has welcomed 161 leaders in philanthropy committed to deepening their understanding of environmental, economic and racial justice. Translating those skills and knowledge into grantmaking and community engagement practices has taken on increased urgency as we navigate multiple, intersecting challenges: an escalating climate crisis, an ongoing pandemic and a widening wealth gap, all of which are causing disproportionate harm to communities of color.

By becoming a PLACES Fellow, you'll also have opportunities to connect and collaborate with peers in the sector through the PLACES Alumni Network, comprised of alums from all corners of the United States and Canada, representing national, regional, family, and community foundations as well as philanthropy serving organizations and other funding institutions.

We're so thrilled to welcome a new PLACES Fellowship cohort in 2022. Please read on for more PLACES information and highlights — and feel free to share with colleagues who may be interested!

Applications are due Feb. 1, 2022.

Apply Now

About the PLACES Fellowship

The 2022 PLACES Fellowship will be a hybrid experience. The month of April will be virtual, and the three remaining sessions are tentatively planned to be in-person. Applicants will be asked to complete a short COVID-19 Comfort and Safety Survey as part of their application.

  • April 20, Virtual Kickoff
  • June 20-22, Burlington, Vt.
  • September 19-21, Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • November 14-16, San Joaquin Valley, Calif.

*Dates and locations are subject to change.

Fellowship Fees:
For accepted participants, the following fees will apply:

TFN Members: $750
Non-members: $1250

*Limited partial scholarships available.

Fees support the programmatic and operational costs associated with the fellowship, including equitable compensation for local vendors, facilitators and others involved in this work. Fellows will be responsible for travel costs and hotel accommodations for site visits.

COVID Contingencies

Given the uncertainties of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, TFN remains committed to prioritizing the safety of our fellows and the communities they serve. We will be closely monitoring recommendations and mandates from local health officials as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as we plan for the 2022 PLACES Fellowship. Please stay tuned for updates regarding safety protocols as we will be sharing specifics about the hybrid fellowship in the coming weeks.

PLACES Impact Stories

For the 10th anniversary of TFN's PLACES Fellowship, we worked with two award-winning journalists to help capture the stories shared and the lessons learned through the PLACES Fellowship. The result is our PLACES Impact Stories project, which includes profiles written by WLRN social justice reporter Nadege Green and videos created by documentary filmmaker Oscar Corral.

We asked PLACES alumni to share what inspires, motivates and challenges them in their efforts to embed the values of racial, social and economic equity into their work. Check out Surabhi Pandit's Impact story to hear more about her experiences as an alum.


Going PLACES Blogs

After each PLACES site visit, we ask the fellows to reflect on their experiences in our blog series Going PLACES. Check out some recent highlights from our PLACES alumni.

Going PLACES: What the Newark Rebellion can teach us about Philanthropy. By Grace Chung, Senior Community Development Officer, LISC New York City and 2019 PLACES Fellow. Read more here.

Going PLACES: Becoming A Change Agent. By Andrea Hulighan, Director, Strategic Initiatives, The Winston-Salem Foundation, and 2018 PLACES Fellow. Read more here.

Going PLACES:  Wichita - Starting with difficult conversations, from a place of love. By Randy Lopez, Vice President Community Foundations, Wyandotte Health Foundation and 2018 PLACES Fellow. Read more here.

Check out the many blogs written by our fellows on the ground here.

Stay Connected

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Urban Water news: How Austin is forging a path to a reliable water future (cross-post)

The Funders Network is committed to sharing the stories and strategies of our members, partners and others in the philanthropic sector working to create more sustainable, prosperous and equitable communities.

Today, we're sharing a recent blog post from the Texas Living Waters Project about Austin's effort to create a sustainable water future. The development creation and implementation of Austin's ambitious water supply plan, known as 'Water Forward', was supported through the Urban Water Initiative, a collaborative effort by The JPB Foundation and the Pisces Foundation, both TFN members. TFN managed The JPB Foundation’s portion of this grantmaking initiative. Read the full blog post by Jennifer Walker, deputy director of the  Texas Coast and Water Program at National Wildlife Federation  here.

Six short years ago, Austin confronted a grim water future. The long dry tail of the 2011 drought combined with record population growth and increasingly concerning climate projections to paint an anxious picture of the city’s water supply. The Highland Lakes, the sole source of water for the city, were very low and facing an uncertain future.

Yet, thanks to an all-hands-on-deck lets-do-this effort, the city rallied from those bleak months, drawing on extensive community and expert feedback to put in place the pieces that would result in an ambitious water supply plan known as Water Forward which was adopted by City Council December 2018.

This fall, key elements of that plan are finally falling into place. The city council voted in late September to enact the first significant set of ordinances to implement Water Forward. Some are the first of their kind in Texas. The ordinances stipulate:

  1. New developments that are required to submit a site plan will be required to prepare a water budget that will inform water management decisions on the property;
  2. Austin’s large commercial developments will need to offset their non-potable water use with water generated onsite—thus preserving and extending our potable water supply. Initially, this program will be voluntary and the utility will provide incentives to encourage uptake. The program will eventually become mandatory.
  3. Large developments will be required to connect to the centralized purple pipe system if they are within 500 feet of the line.

These programs promise to create much needed water supplies for our rapidly-growing city through drawing on locally available water supplies and utilizing it close to the source.

The value of these initiatives cannot be overstated.

Read the full post to learn more about how Austin is ahead of the state and national curve in their proactive approach to managing their water supply.

"Lake Austin" by G. Lamar is licensed under CC BY